OUTWAIT: CHAPTER ONE

OUTWAIT
©2017 LISA SUZANNE


OUTWAIT (verb):
1. To overcome a situation by holding oneself back from an action. 



CHAPTER 1
CARSON

“I appreciate the offer, son, but it’s going to take a lot more than a pretty bottom line.”
Son—what a condescending son-of-a-bitch. Despite the dig at me, I keep my face smooth. I want to punch this guy in his bald head, but I keep my cool. If he had a daughter, I’d fuck her just to piss him off. “With all due respect, Mr. Baker, it’s more than a pretty bottom line. It’ll set you, your children, and your children’s children up for the rest of their lives.”
“I understand that, but we do just fine.”
“I’ve reviewed your financial statements, and I must respectfully disagree. Profits are down forty-seven percent over the last year, and they’re just going to keep plunging. Your shareholders won’t stand for that.”
“Profits are down, sure, but we’re still making money.”
“How long do you think that’ll last? Subscribers are vanishing by the day, and you aren’t doing anything about it.”
He gazes at me angrily for a second. “I’m not doing anything about it?” He slams a fist down on his desk and lowers his voice to a near hiss. “You don’t know the first goddamn thing about this company. You can take your offer and shove it.”
His menacing threat is laughable.
“You know what this means, don’t you?”
He shakes his head and picks up some paperwork from his desk, acting more interested in that than in me. “Do what you have to do. My shareholders will stick by me.”
“Your shareholders, sir, are going to abandon you the second they see my numbers. They’ll have dollar signs in their eyes. Money talks, and any allegiance they have to you can be bought.”
He has to know I’m right. If he signs on my dotted line, it’ll be easier for both of us, and he’ll make way more money off the deal. Instead, he’s forcing my hand. I’ll have to go in and buy enough stock to take control of the company from him.
“Get the hell out of my office.”
I stand and walk toward the door. “I wish we could have come to an agreement, Mr. Baker.”
He gazes at me for a long minute, and then he returns his attention to his paperwork.
I nearly get sick on the sidewalk in front of the Baker Media building a few minutes later. I hate confrontation. This wasn’t even my idea; it was my dad’s. He wants their customer base and distribution channels, and he’s the one who should be here. He’s the acting CEO, but he thought it would be “good experience” as I look toward my future with the company.
I pace back and forth for a few minutes, drawing in deep breaths of the humid, salty sea air, and it instantly calms me—much more so than the stagnant, car-exhaust-filled air of Manhattan. I love New York, I really do, I just sometimes wonder if, given the choice, I’d have chosen it as the place where I want to spend the rest of my life.
The nerves in my stomach start to calm. I wasn’t built for this.
I think back to last night, regretting my parting words to Heather: “I’ll call you.”
It’s a lie. I’m not going to call her. I wasn’t built for relationships, either.
I don’t really know what I was built for, exactly. I enjoy women—a lot. I like single malt whisky and fast cars and social events with women wearing tight dresses. I like technology, and I like working with my hands.
I don’t like hostile takeovers. I don’t like flying and I don’t enjoy putting in eighteen-hour days. I don’t like intimacy or commitment.
Sometimes I’m jealous of my brother, Carter. He makes life look so easy—but he isn’t the one expected to take over the company when our dad retires.
Carter has always been so much more centered than me, so much more focused. The only reason I’m taking over as CEO in a few months is because it has always been expected of me. I’m not entirely positive it’s what I want, though.
As I ride back to the airport less than an hour after I left it, I think about my upcoming transition at work. Half the time, I feel like I fake the confidence I need to pull off the position of CEO. Maybe that’s why I sleep with so many women. That’s one area where I know I excel. I don’t have to fake it…and neither do the women I’m with.
Heather darts through my mind again. Last night—the third time I’ve slept with her—was a mistake, but bourbon does that to me, and Heather knows that. We’re business associates first. She works in marketing at one of our sister companies, and we run in the same circles. After a few too many cocktails at a corporate event one of our subsidiaries was sponsoring, we left together. We went back to her place—almost always the woman’s place, because then I can leave when I want—and fucked. Twice. Then I had to get home and grab my suit so I could make my flight this morning for this stupid meeting I didn’t even want to go to.
I arrive at the airport and check in for my flight, and then I wait in the first-class lounge. My phone notifies me of a text, and I glance at it to see it’s from Heather. I don’t open it, not right away. I wait a few minutes, staring mindlessly out the window, and I can’t help but think of her long, blonde hair and her blue eyes. She fits my type to a T—I fairly exclusively sleep with blonde-haired, blue-eyed beauties. I won’t say I’ve never dabbled in gingers or brunettes, but I just like blondes…especially the tall ones with legs for miles and tits they can shake in my face.
I’m getting hard just thinking about tits, actually.
Heather’s fine, and we have fun together, but after three times, I get the feeling she wants more than I do. Nothing drives that message home more clearly than the text I finally open.
Heather: I’m thinking of you.
There’s a picture attached, and she’s as naked as the day is long.
I shake my head and don’t respond despite the tightening in my pants. The only response I can come up with will lead her right back into my bed, and that wouldn’t be good for either of us.
Another text comes through, and I think about ignoring it in case it’s Heather again, but I’m waiting to hear back from my dad about my meeting with Baker Media.
It’s not my dad or Heather. It’s my buddy Miller Cox.
Miller: You in town tonight?
Me: On my way from San Diego now. Should be in by ten.
Miller: Meet me at Enders.
I sigh as I debate whether I should go. Enders is the bar we frequent. It’s been a stressful day, and a night out with my buddy doesn’t sound bad. I’m sure I’ll find someone to go home with, which doesn’t sound bad either, but I do have an early meeting tomorrow, and I have some work left to do.
Ultimately, good sense does not win this one. I’ll work on the plane. Sleep is for the weak.
Me: I’ll be there.
I’m pushing thirty. My birthday is fast approaching, and soon I won’t be in my twenties anymore. I’m getting too old for this shit, but I don’t really want to make any changes, either. Even though I’m not always thrilled with my job, I should be. I’m incredibly lucky to be taking over a billion-dollar company. I’m a decent-looking guy who works hard at the gym whenever I can spare the time. I’ve got women pushing each other out of the way to be with me. I have my pick of events to attend. I have people in my life I trust, and I’m logical enough to figure out who I can and can’t depend on.
All in all, my life is pretty damn near perfect.
So why does it suddenly feel like something’s off?
It has to be the fact that I’m boarding a plane soon. Flying gives me anxiety, and I’m too damn busy for anxiety.
I open my tablet and shift my focus to work. Any time my thoughts drift to the big three-oh, the magic solution is redirecting my thoughts to my job. There’s always something to do there, something to occupy my mind. It seems like it’s never finished—because it’s not.
I just wonder how long this solution will work. 

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